February 21, 2016

MODERN ART & DESIGN AUCTION

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Lot 155: James Gill

Lot 155: James Gill

Untitled

1962
Acrylic on Masonite panel
Signed and dated lower left
Panel: 40" x 30"; Frame: 41.75" x 31.625"
Estimate: $3,000 - $5,000
Price Realized: $9,375
Inventory Id: 21155

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Now enjoying a rediscovery, the painter James Gill (born 1934) emerged as a phenomenon in the Los Angeles art scene of the early 1960s. The Texan–a Marine Corps veteran who had given up architectural studies to pursue painting–moved to California in 1961. Though he was unknown, the prominent art dealer Felix Landau offered to represent Gill's work in Los Angeles and New York. Critics had difficulty placing his art. The use of bright colors and serial imagery drawn often from celebrity culture and the news media prompted many to define Gill as a Pop artist, yet his blurred painterly technique also won him comparisons to Francis Bacon.

Gill promptly drew a following from members of the Hollywood community as well as attention from established patrons in the East Coast art world. His 1962 triptych Marilyn–painted shortly after the actress's suicide–was purchased in New York by Dominique and John de Menil and later donated to the Museum of Modern Art. Gill's work was shown alongside that of Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, James Rosenquist, Ed Ruscha, and others at the 1967 Sao Paulo biennial; the following year, he was commissioned by Time magazine to paint a cover image of the dissident Soviet writer Alex Solzhenitsyn.

In 1972, still at the height of fame, Gill retreated from the public eye to live quietly in Northern California. He returned to his native town of San Angelo, Texas and recently resumed exhibiting his work.

Edwards, Jim, William A. Emboden, and David McCarthy. Uncommonplaces: The Art of James Francis Gill. San Angelo, TX: San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts, 2005. Print.

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